GENEVA: July 26, 2016. China has ratified the U.N. TIR Convention. With effect from January 05, 2017 the country will be able to export goods to the European Union and Turkey under a single, simplified transit procedure.
Founded in 1975, the Customs Convention on the 'International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets' is the only universal Customs transit system in existence. China's ratification brings to 70 the number of participating countries including the European Union.
'Transports Internationaux Routiers' - or TIR - covers the whole of Europe, North Africa, Turkey and the Middle East. More than 35,000 operators are authorized to use the TIR system and around three million TIR movements are carried out per year.
"China's accession to the TIR Convention will open new efficient and faster transport opportunities and transport routes between China and Europe," said Christian Friis Bach, executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). "It can become a real game changer for international trade and is a strong contribution to the Chinese vision for 'One Road One Belt,'" he added.
EU-China trade reached €520 billion in 2015, with 60 percent carried by sea. According to Eurostat, rail and road accounted for some 10 percent of China's exports to the EU, and 3.2 percent of the EU's exports to China.
UNECE, which hosts the secretariat of both the TIR Convention and the International Road Transport Union (IRU), says the inclusion of China will facilitate trade between Central Asian countries and the European Union, and stimulate China's transit and logistics services. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan are already TIR members.
"This is an important step in harmonizing standards and boosting transport, trade and development across the Eurasian landmass," said Umberto de Pretto, IRU secretary general.
"IRU has been a strong supporter of China's Belt and Road Initiative, and we will continue working closely with the Chinese government and business community as we turn our attention now to implementing the TIR system," de Pretto added.
IRU was founded in 1948 and has members and in more than 100 countries. The organization manages the TIR system under UNECE's mandate.
In February this year Turkey and Iran launched an e-TIR pilot project under the auspices of UNECE and IRU: (Pictured left to right, president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, Rifat Hisarciklioglu; Turkey's minister of Customs and Trade, Bülent Tufenkci; Iranian ambassador Alireza Bikdeli; and secretary general of the IRU, Umberto de Pretto.)